Focus Passage: I Thessalonians 3: 6-13
Memory Verse: “May the Lord increase your love for all just as we have great love for you.”
Items for Preparation
-gather an item or two that your church folks use to say thank you to members who serve in different ways; you can also use a membership card if your church has people fill them out when they join. You can also use a copy of your church directory, or bring your tablet and show an online church directory to children as you talk.
Read the adult lesson in Baptists Today and additional material at Nurturing Faith online. The love of this letter writer gushes out of him toward the people of Thessalonica, and we can use this as a good example of how it feels to be a part of “a beloved community,” a church family, in which the love between members reflects the love God has for us all.
[Display your item(s) and answer questions or explain as needed to your group of children. Make sure to talk about the ways the items are used to indicate membership in the church or good work done as part of the church.]
Say: Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica is like a love letter! Have you ever written a love letter to someone? Have you ever received a love letter? [Allow for answers. Allow for some giggling and red faces, too.]
Say: You can tell from the things Paul wrote that he loves the people in the Thessalonian church very much. That’s a hard name to say, isn’t it? Let’s say it together: Thess – a – lone – eye – cah. And the people who live there are called Thess – a – lone – ee – ans. Can you say it three times fast? [Allow a little time.]
Say: Paul wanted those Thessalonians to understand that he was very grateful for them and loved them very much. Why do you think Paul loved them so much? [Allow for answers.]
Say: As we start getting ready for the birth of Jesus, it is very easy for us to understand the happiness, and the thanks, and the hopefulness that Paul was feeling. He knew that, because the people of Thessalonica loved Jesus, good things were going to happen there.
Say: Paul just had to think about the Thessalonians, and he felt love for them. Because we love Jesus, we know the celebration of Jesus birthday is coming soon. [Hold up your directory or membership card now.] So when we just think about these folks in our church family we love, we can feel excited and happy because we know we’re going to celebrate Jesus’ birth with them soon. And when you see someone who belongs to our church family at the grocery store, or at the mall, or at school, you can smile a happy smile and be thankful for them, just like Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians. We remind each other that we have good reasons to be happy! We all know a wonderful secret: Jesus is coming!
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O God of hope and joy,
Let us feel excited as we wait
For the birth of Jesus.
Let us feel thankful and hopeful
As we see and remind each other
Of how many people share your love,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.